Ireland

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The Blog Awards Ireland is an annual award the recognizes excellence in Irish blogging. I’m happy to announce that ATriptoIreland.com is a finalist!

[Update: It won! Woohoo!]

blog_buttons_FINALISTATriptoIreland.com qualifies for the “Best Blog of the Diaspora” category in the 2014 Blog Awards Ireland. Last year, I made it to the longlist round of the competition; this year, the blog has made it all the way to the finals. I’m honored to receive this recognition and acknowledgement.

This is a good opportunity to outline what ATriptoIreland has become, and where I intend to take it next.  Read the rest of this entry »

Anna Sweeney’s novel Deadly Intent is an atmospheric murder mystery set on the Beara peninsula in Co. Kerry.

downloadThe story opens with an unconscious woman found on an isolated path in the country. The woman, Maureen, is a guest at a high-end guest house run by Nessa, a former journalist from Dublin, and her husband Patrick, a political refugee from Malawi. Although the initial suspect is Maureen’s husband, an unstable man named Dominic, the case gets complicated quickly as there is a suggestion that she may have been having an affair with another guest, the rich industrialist Oscar Maldin, who has now vanished. Read the rest of this entry »

A drag queen from Dublin has been making headlines around the world over the last couple of weeks. The issue that kicked off the controversy was gay rights, but now the debate has morphed into nothing less than a battle for free speech in Ireland.

I'm on Team Panti T-shirts are popping up around Dublin.  (Photo: belongto.ie)

I’m on Team Panti T-shirts are popping up around Dublin. Source: belongto.ie

The tradition of the noble call is an old one from the days when the only entertainment was the craic you made yourself. Everyone had a party piece, a song, a dance, a recitation, a piece of music to offer. Thus, the recent Abbey Theatre production of The Risen People, a play about the famous Dublin Lock Out in 1913, solicited responses in the tradition of the noble call from different people after each performance. Last week, the performer they called on was Rory O’Neill, who performs as “Ireland’s Most-Fabulous Drag Queen” Panti Bliss.  Read the rest of this entry »

There are several stories and rumors concerning the death of Hugh de Lacy, the first Norman Lord of Meath. 

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Norman view of warfare (from the Bayeux Tapestry)

The less-colorful tale holds that he died in 1186 after being hit by falling masonry while inspecting work at Durrow. The more-colorful and nationalistic version credits a young stone mason with an opportunistic ambush. While inspecting work on the former abbey at Durrow — once the foremost early Irish university in the early days of the Brehon laws — de Lacy was distracted and bending over to peer at some stonework. A young stone mason, a local man, pulled a battle ax from beneath his tunic and quickly cut the lord’s head from his body. The mason then escaped into nearby woods, and presumably was a hero to the native Irish.

De Lacy’s body then became a literal bone of contention between the natives and the Norman forces, and it was almost a decade later, 1195, before the Normans finally secured his remains and removed them to Bective Abbey, where his body was finally laid to rest. His head was later brought to Dublin and interred with his wife in the Abbey of St. Thomas.

But things still may not be as simple as they appear. Hugh was rumored to have ordered a crown and been making plans to declare himself King of Ireland at the time of his death — introducing the possibility that his assassin may not have been an Irish rebel at all, but was possibly acting on Henry II‘s orders.

With this rumor in mind, King John’s alarm at seeing Hugh’s son Walter harboring enemies of the crown in 1210, which motivated John’s marching on Trim at the head of his army, is a little more understandable. You can read John’s action as decisively moving against a potential rival, and less as the act of an insecure king. John may have felt the possibility of a rival Norman king setting himself up in Ireland was once again in danger of becoming reality, and acted quickly to nip that eventuality in the bud.

Two decades after his death, the specter of Hugh de Lacy still seems to have cast a long shadow across the Irish Sea.

 

 

Vikings, the History Channel’s entertaining rival to Game of Thrones, returns to our screens in late February. This is another show filmed in Ireland and displaying the country to good affect.

Vikings LogoPerhaps surprisingly, both seasons of Vikings have been almost entirely shot in Ireland. I say surprisingly because one doesn’t necessarily think of Ireland when one thinks of immense mountain vistas. However, the producers found some awesome locations in the Wicklow Mountains that didn’t take much camera trickery to make look enormous and majestic. Read the rest of this entry »

Lorna Sixsmith is at the forefront of a new wave of blogging farmers who are changing the perception of agricultural life in Ireland. Her first book, Would You Marry a Farmer? showcases the richness and diversity of rural life.

Would You Marry a Farmer? by Lorna Sixsmith

Would You Marry a Farmer? by Lorna Sixsmith

Would You Marry a Farmer? started life as a humorous post on her popular blog, Irish Farmerette. Her truthful and affectionate take on the pros and cons of marrying into such an all-consuming way of life touched a chord in a country where nearly everyone had farmers somewhere back in the family tree. After a successful crowd-funding campaign to prove the demand for the book (farmer’s are eminently practical) she expanded that initial post into a book exploring the ups and downs of modern farm life. I picked up the book expecting something in the nature of a humorous gift-book: a light-hearted distraction with a grounding of good sense;  but, I found a much richer story. Read the rest of this entry »

Distinguished historian Graham Robb is the latest to contract Celtomania, coming up with a fascinating theory that the ancient Celts possessed advanced knowledge of surveying and astronomy in his new book.

In The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the lost World of the Celts (published as The Ancient Paths in Europe), Graham Robb (author of Parisians and The Discovery of France) proposes a new theory that the Celts built their communities in Gaul and Britain (less so in Ireland) along precisely aligned solar pathways. Some of these ancient paths could have been formal roadways, but many may have only ever been well-worth tracks or simply maps in a Druid’s head. When the Romans conquered Gaul, they seem to have paved these pre-existing roads and traditional paths in Roman fashion, and over time a complex system of Celtic self-organization was obscured.  Read the rest of this entry »

By far the most cost-effective way to enjoy Ireland’s heritage sites is by purchasing an OPW Heritage Card.

OPW Heritage Card (credit: Photographic Unit, Department of Arts Heritage & the Gaeltacht)

OPW Heritage Card
(credit: Photographic Unit, Department of Arts Heritage & the Gaeltacht)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) manage and maintain the monuments and historic properties that are in state ownership (which are the bulk of the significant and famous sites). Many of the smaller sites and ruins are freely accessible, as there are no guides or facilities on-site, you just open the gate and explore at your own pace. However, all of the major attractions (Newgrange, Trim Castle, The Hill of Tara, The Cliffs of Moher, etc.) do require a ticket to enter, and in return provide excellent interpretation, tours, and facilities.

Read the rest of this entry »

The headlines in yesterday’s Irish newspapers informed us that the village of Moynalty, in Co. Meath, is the 2013 winner of the national Tidy Towns’ contest. Woohoo! Cue the confetti & fanfare. But, what exactly is the Tidy Towns contest when it’s at home?

Moynalty, Co. Meath. The 2013 Tidiest Town in Ireland (photo: wikipedia commons)

Moynalty, Co. Meath. The 2013 Tidiest Town in Ireland.
(photo: wikipedia commons)

History of the Contest

In the early 1950s, the Irish government ran a “National Spring Clean” campaign, with the general aim of making the place presentable and attracting visitors. In 1958, “An Tostal” was held, a year-long festival celebrating all things Irish (a forerunner of 2013’s “The Gathering”), and the Spring Clean morphed into the Tidy Towns initiative.

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Swearing is rife in Ireland. No, that’s an understatement, swearing is epidemic in Ireland. It used to be that swearing was reserved for all-male gatherings, or certain places (like sporting events or the school yard), but in recent years swearing has become much more common, uni-sex, and offensive.

why do the Irish swear so much?

Some people find rude Irishmen like Declan in Leap Year romantic figures, others not so much…

Before we discuss why this is, consider that we Irish have always admired masters of the art of conversation. While poets and writers are all very good and are greatly respected, they practice their art on the page and only reveal their wit and wisdom after much contemplation. Verbal dexterity and a quick wit are among the most-prized attributes in Irish life, the best poets often can’t raise a candle to the person with a ready quip. In place of real wit or wisdom, the average person can arm themselves with a devil-may-care attitude, cynical putdowns, and well-timed oaths. Shock value is often substituted for originality, and sadly a lot of people wouldn’t know the difference anyway (not that that is unique to Ireland…). Read the rest of this entry »

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